Bulls Notes: Thompson, Williams, Ball, Caruso

Tristan Thompson is a long-time admirer of Dennis Rodman, so he’s thrilled to be playing in the city where “The Worm” won three championships, writes Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. Thompson signed with the Bulls last weekend after being waived by Indiana, and he hopes to emulate the success that Rodman had with the team.

“He was the first person I believe in this league in NBA history to be a star in their role,” Thompson said. “I remember saying that exact quote, saying ‘be a star in a role’ when we were on those runs in Cleveland, making those championship runs. He was definitely the definition of being a star in a role and that was something that I wanted to embody in my game.”

Thompson’s extensive playoff experience with the Cavaliers makes him an ideal addition for a team that needed a veteran big man to come off its bench. He’s already impressing his new teammates with his attention to detail.

“Even when he was in practice (Wednesday) night, things that he (saw) he’d chime in and correct right away,” DeMar DeRozan said. “He understands the game. He has a championship. He’s played on great teams. So he see a lot of things and jumped on it right away. He’s not hesitated to speak up and that’s a true leader.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls remain optimistic that Patrick Williams will be able to return this season after undergoing surgery on his left wrist in October, but he has several hurdles to clear before playing again, Poe states in a separate story. Williams has been shooting for months, but doctors want him to build up more strength in the wrist before clearing him for contact. Once that happens, he’ll have to go through practices and 5-on-5 scrimmages to get him ready for game action. With just six weeks left in the regular season, it’s uncertain how many games Williams might be available for.
  • Along with Williams, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are expected to return from injuries at some point, which will present a new coaching challenge for Billy Donovan, Poe adds. “It’s much harder to reincorporate a player back into the rotation who’s been out for an extended period of time and doesn’t have a rhythm,” Donovan said. “We’re going to have guys moving in different roles, different situations. So there’s going to be another iteration of our team at some point in time where we’re going to have a very, very small number of games to try to be playing really good basketball.”
  • The Bulls have the fifth-best record in the league at 39-22, but they haven’t been impressive against likely playoff teams, notes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Saturday’s loss to Memphis left Chicago at 4-6 against the top six teams in the West and 2-8 against the six best teams in the East.
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